“You can pick up a ukulele and anybody can learn to play a couple of tunes in a day or even a few hours. And if you want to get good at it, there’s no end to what you can do.” – Joe Brown
Led by pop culture stars such as Taylor Swift, Eddie Vedder and Jack Johnson, the resurgence of the ukulele particularly among the younger generation, correlates with its music carefree, delightful and fun. Let us take a look at some of the famous ukulele players who actually played or play ukulele as their primary musical instrument. Some might even surprise you!
Neil Armstrong: He has to be in this list. Neil Armstrong the first man on the moon just loved to play the ukulele. As a matter of fact after returned back from his moon mission he spent several weeks in quarantine while scientists at the time feared that he may have picked up strange bacteria while in space. But the reality was that he spent much of this time in quarantine strumming his ukulele.
George Harrison: An English guitarist, singer, and songwriter achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles, loved the ukulele. He even played the instrument on the Beatles Anthology album, adding a part to the album’s new offering from the Beatles.
Paul McCartney: He is an English singer-songwriter, instrumentalist, and a composer. Along with John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, he gained worldwide fame as the bassist of the rock band the Beatles. Paul McCartney is again a fantastic ukulele player. After the death of George Harrison, Paul McCartney paid tribute to George Harrison and the Ukulele on his world tour in 2014.
Jake Shimabukuro: He is a ukulele virtuoso and composer known for his fast and complex finger work. His music combines basics of jazz, blues, funk, rock, bluegrass, classical, folk, and flamenco. Shimabukuro’s mother gave him an ukulele at age four and he quickly took an interest in the instrument, playing it many hours a day. His mother, an accomplished ukulele player and singer, was his first teacher. He came to limelight when someone posted a virtuosic video of him playing George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on YouTube. The video quickly went viral, and has received over 13 million views.
Taylor Swift: Pop culture stars such as Taylor Swift, has made ukulele very famous among teenagers. Ukulele which many people did not know has again come to life with these young pop stars taking up this musical instrument has made it very popular.
Eddie Vedder: The video for “Longing to Belong,” the first single from Eddie Vedder’s new solo album Ukulele Songs, is just as simple and low-key as the song itself. Abstracted footage of the ocean and Hawaiian palm trees are cut with images of Vedder, decked out in an uncharacteristically fancy suit, strumming his ukulele and looking very pensive.
For its dainty size, the ukulele can make a powerfully cheerful sound, and it’s an instrument both beginners and expert players can learn and easily carry around. So if you are pondering whether to buy a ukulele or not – just look what honoured company you will be in!
There are not many ukulele instructors around East Bay, so if you are looking for ukulele lessons then contact me @ (925) 695-7060. We provide private in-home ukulele lessons throughout the East Bay including: Benicia, Berkeley, Clayton, Concord, Crocket, Danville, Dublin, Fairfield, Hercules, Lafayette, Livermore, Martinez, Moraga, Orinda, Pleasant Hill, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Vallejo, & Walnut Creek, CA. I am Rex Lee Bell and I have over 40 years of experience as a musician, music instructor, arranger and performing artist. I have been a guitar and ukulele player in San Francisco Bay Area and New York City recording and performing with artists such as Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Sammy Davis Jr., Paul Simon, Michael Jackson, Wild Cherry, The Drifters, Tammy Wynette, Jackson Brown, The Pointer Sisters, Tower of Power and many others.